As companies grew increasingly reliant on electronic communication, experts assumed the era of the paperless business was upon us. Despite this, shops, restaurants, salons, law firms and small manufacturing firms still have difficulty converting to a paperless office. But the benefits can be worth the effort: Learning how to go paperless helps reduce office waste, saves time, reduces physical contact, helps securely store important documents and may save a few trees!
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Here are some statistics that highlight just a few of the environmental and financial benefits of going paperless in the office:
It’s vital that you have a strategy before going paperless in your small business. But you don’t have to completely transform overnight. Simply pick one or two ways to go paperless, put them into practice and then move on to other areas. If you need some help getting started, here are eight handy paperless-office tips.
In addition to reducing paper use, storing documents and files in the cloud allows your company to:
Another important step in transitioning to a paperless business is replacing notepads and printed presentations with information sharing technology. Hard-copy presentations are costly to supply, may get lost or damaged, and can be difficult to get to remote workers. And notepads can be inefficient for note taking in fast-paced work environments. To go paperless in your business meetings:
Once the documents are shared, everyone with access will be able to add notes. You can also adjust the document settings to give people you share it with different levels of access: viewing only, viewing plus commenting, or full editing privileges.
One of the easiest ways to go paperless at work is by shifting to electronic communication:
What do you do with existing paper documents while you’re converting to a paperless office? One option is to scan them into a PDF format and upload the copies to the cloud. You can use a printer’s scanner or download a scanning app to your tablet or phone. As a security precaution, shred documents after uploading them. If you absolutely need hard copies of a document, store them in a safety deposit box as part of your small business’s disaster recovery plan.
Going digital with your processes can increase your small business’s capability and performance, leading to better customer engagement and a more seamless user experience. For example, a business going paperless could establish a way for customers to place orders online or offer 24-hour automated technical support on their products. In either case, the customer is better served.
Digitizing your finances is also an effective strategy when becoming a paperless company. Things like digital receipts are ideal for salons, restaurants, retail shops and similar small businesses, offering advantages to both you and your customers. A digital receipt won’t fade or get misplaced. Plus, they can be tailored to specific customers and will save time during transactions. Another example of how to go paperless with your financing is direct deposit. Electronically transferring money into a payee’s bank account is not only cheaper (and safer) than issuing paper checks but also makes for easier bookkeeping.
One of the potential disadvantages of becoming a paperless company is a possible increase in energy consumption as employees switch to reading documents on electronic devices. However, just because your business is going paperless doesn’t mean you have to settle for higher energy costs. Installing LED lighting, energy-efficient printers and other energy-saving equipment can help offset the cost of increased electricity usage.
Going paperless in a small business may require purchasing new laptops, tablets and portable digital payment devices, which can be costly. One helpful paperless-office tip is to lease your more expensive equipment. This way, you can save on upfront costs, repairs, upgrades and equipment maintenance fees. Leasing also allows you to experiment with different equipment until you find the technology that’s most effective in your paperless company.
In a paperless workplace, signing contracts and agreements no longer means printing out long documents for a couple of signatures. Instead, this costly and time-consuming process is replaced by getting electronic signatures. You may already be using e-signatures for credit card transactions through your POS system. E-signatures are considered legally binding and allow you and your clients to review and sign documents anywhere, making them particularly popular ways to go paperless in salons, offices, shops or any business that’s trying to limit physical contact between people.
Even if you understand how to go paperless, you may still be unsure whether the change could truly benefit your company. When it comes down to your bottom line, is going paperless worth it? Every business is unique, as are their needs and areas of opportunity. That’s why it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of going paperless before beginning your small business’s digital transformation.
Saving the world’s trees is a noble goal, but there are many other important reasons to go paperless in your office:
Going paperless is not without its challenges. As with any business decision, you must also consider the potential disadvantages of a paperless workplace.
Only you know whether your small business and customers are ready for a paperless workplace. Perhaps the upfront costs and work needed exceed any benefits you’d see. And paperless businesses face their own challenges; no system is perfect. But for businesses that want a more efficient and secure method of documentation, a paperless-office strategy is ideal. And now that you know how to go paperless, if that’s your choice, you have several ideas for where to start.
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